E.E. Canberra WJ615

Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Grampians













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: An RAF English Electric Canberra bomber  / photo-reconnaissance aircraft at the classic Kemble Air Show, Gloucestershire, England in 2003.


a canberra bomber


Photo: 2003 Adrian Pingstone ('Arpingstone'). Released by the author to the public domain.




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Aircraft Type and Background


RAF English Electric Canberra B.2 / WJ615



Aircraft manufacturer: Handley Page Ltd.


Other manufacturers of this type:



(Like Handley Page, both Avro and Shorts were subcontracted by English Electric to help cope with demand);

BAC (subcontractor to English Electric following liquidation or merger of the earlier manufacturers);

Martin B-57 Canberra (US Type built under licence.)


Aircraft Type Nickname: "Cranberry"; Caterpillar", and others.



Built as a successor to the de Havilland Mosquito, the English Electric Canberra became one of the RAF's longest serving aircraft. Used initially as a high-altitude jet bomber, the Canberra was put into service latterly as a photo-reconnaissance aircraft. Between its two roles, the type served with the RAF for over 50 years.


As it was designed to fly high and fast, the Canberra did not carry any defensive armaments. However, as a bomber, the aircraft could carry 6,000lbs of bombs internally plus under-wing gun pods or another 1,000 of bombs externally.


The modified B.2 variant of the Canberra, which is the type featured here, first flew in 1950.


Many of these Canberras served with the RAF in Malaya,  and Egypt during the Suez Crisis. Martin B-57 Canberras served with the USAF in Vietnam. Canberras were also used by the RAAF in Australia against targets in Malaya and Vietnam.


Equipped with Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engines, the Canberra had a maximum speed of just over 600mph, and a ceiling greater than 48,000ft.


A No. 39 (PRU) Squadron Canberra remained in service at RAF Marham until 28 July 2006, when the type was finally retired from the RAF.



BELOW: An RAAF English Electric Canberra bomber.


an english electric canberra bomber


Photo: 2007 'DJGB'. Released by the author to the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.






Aircraft Accident Details


This particular Canberra was attached to No.35 Squadron RAF. (No. 50 Squadron had also been equipped with Canberras, but theirs had been replaced 10 months prior to this accident with Avro Vulcan bombers.)


Flying Officer Redman (Pilot), with Flying Officer Mansell (Navigator), of No.35 Squadron was detailed to fly Canberra B.2 WJ615 on an authorised 3 hours night sortie.


At 18:02 (Zulu) hours the aircraft took off from RAF Upwood (Cambridgeshire, England), received clearance and departed for Kinloss (Scotland) Weather conditions for the entire trip were good.


At 19.00 hours the aircraft made R/T contact with Kinloss, after which a normal QGH1 from 25,000ft followed by a visual circuit and overshoot of runway 26 was carried out.


At 19.21 hours the aircraft was seen to climb away from an overshoot height of approximately 300ft by Kinloss Air Traffic Control who passed two regional pressure settings. Flying Officer Redman replied "Thank You. Good Night." This was the last transmission heard from the aircraft.


The aircraft was seen to climb away for its return to Upwood. At about 19.30 hours (approximately) witnesses from near Braemar heard a jet aircraft pass at an unusually low altitude for that area. One witness saw what must have been the tail navigation light, and the outline of the aircraft as it passed flying south, with the engines sounding normal and on a straight course. A few minutes later the witness saw a flash as it struck the hills [Carn an t-Sagair Mòr]. It was a clear night with a small amount of scattered cloud.


About 30 civilian volunteers, guided by Police and Queen's gamekeepers, and two RAF Service Mountain Rescue Teams (Leuchars 10 men and Kinloss 22 men) and a helicopter were engaged in the search for the wreckage. At 03.30 hours (23 November 1956) three search parties from [the] Danzig Shiel2 (OS 50/201905) were sent out in a SE direction. Party 'B' was just approaching the wreckage when the helicopter sighted it at 08.40 hours.


The subsequent Court of Inquiry was unable to determine the cause of the accident.3





1 QGH (or CDTC):  Air Traffic Control code for 'Controlled Descent Through Cloud'.


2 Shiels: Cottage homes built on the instructions of Queen Victoria to replace ageing huts or bothies on the Royal Estate at Balmoral.

The Danzig Shiel: One such cottage home situated within the Royal forest. Occupied in part by the head keeper, but with rooms reserved for Royal use.


3 Details based on Accidents Investigation Branch (Civil Aviation) Report, which was kindly made available by Alan Clark of Peak District Air Accident Research.






Aircraft Crew Casualties


Both airmen died in this accident. These were:

  • Flying Officer A A Redman (20), Pilot, RAF

  • Flying Officer A A Mansell, Navigator, RAF





Crash Site Photos   (Page 1-A)


NOTE: Wreckage from Canberra WJ615 was scattered over a very wide area. The photos below show some of this wreckage, most of which is associated with the mainplane.


Other parts of the aircraft can be seen on Pages 1-B, 1-C, 1-D and 1-E. The photos on these pages show much of the more widely scattered wreckage, extending from Fafernie to Carn an t-Sagairt Beag and Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr, as well as the main wreckage closer to the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr.


The search and recovery photos (black and white) can be seen on Page 2.



BELOW: The remains of the Canberra's port wing, clearly showing the RAF roundel.


canberra's port wing.


Photo: © 2014 Iain Kesson



BELOW: Main wing section viewed from opposite (wing root) end.


wing section from opposite end.


Photo: © 2014 Iain Kesson



BELOW: Part of main wing viewed from wing tip.


wing part viewed from wing tip.


Photo: © 2014 Iain Kesson



BELOW: Instructions stencilled on airframe.


stencilled instructions.


Photo: © 2014 Iain Kesson



BELOW: Part of the Canberra's main wing; bearing the serial WJ615.


part of main wing from Canberra bomber


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Assorted Canberra wreckage lying on the slopes of Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr.


assorted canberra wreckage on the hillside


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: A rear section from one of the turbojet engines.


a section from one of the turbo-jet engines


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: A closer view of the turbojet section.


a closer view of the turbo-jet section


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Various fragmented sections gathered together.


various fragmented sections gathered together


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Aluminium (aluminum) skinning from the Canberra.


aluminium (aluminum) skinning from the Canberra


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Part of a turbojet unit from one of the engines (front view).


turbo-jet unit from one of the engines


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: More fragmented wreckage.


more fragmented wreckage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel












BELOW: An overview of the remaining wreckage showing the main wing assembly.


main wing assembly


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: A closer view of part of the Canberra's main wing. Partly visible is the aircraft's code: WJ615.


closer view of Canberra wing section


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: Part of the Canberra's tail cone.


part of the Canberra's tail plane


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: Rear section of one of the turbojet engines (combustion chamber housing?) from the Canberra. (See also black and white photos on page 2.)


rear section of turbojet engine


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW:  Possibly, main spar.


unindentified section - perhaps main spar


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: Engine exhaust shroud or duct (jet pipe).


possibly, jet pipe


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: Possibly, wing leading edge. Electro-mechanical and pneumatic parts just visible.


possibly, wing leading edge


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: Wheel and part of oleo strut.


wheel and oleo leg section













Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: Wheel from opposite side showing hub.


wheel from opposite side showing hub


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: Possibly, an oxygen bottle.


possibly oxygen bottle


Photo: ©  2012 Pat Macguire



BELOW: Overall view of the Canberra's remaining mainplane or main wing section. This perhaps is the largest single piece of wreckage remaining onsite.


The wing extends from the tip to the point where the turbojet engine would have been embedded. The wing root section is missing, probably severed from the remainder of the wing when the turbojet engine fractured.


Overall view of Canberra WJ615 remaining main wing section


Photo: © 2009 Jon Bowyer



BELOW: Part of the main wing close to where one of the turbojet engines sheared off.


part of wing section where turbojet engine sheared off during crash


Photo: © 2009 Jon Bowyer



BELOW: End view of mainplane section.


The Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engines were embedded in the wings rather than being suspended from pylons beneath the wings (see photos of intact Canberra aircraft near the top of this page). These turbojets were stripped out of the wings during the crash.


end view of main wing section


Photo: © 2009 Jon Bowyer





Page Selector


NEXT PAGE: PAGE 1-B  Scattered wreckage found between Fafernie and Carn an t-Sagairt Beag.


PAGE 1-C  Wreckage found while ascending Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr.


PAGE 1-D  Plateau and summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr.


PAGE 1-E  Main wreckage found near summit.


PAGE 2 Search, Investigation and Recovery Photos (1956)





Photo Gallery


For additional crash site and wreckage photos please select


from the drop down Album Menu in the Photo Gallery


















Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 22 Nov 1956


Accident Site:

Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr

(1,047m / 3,430ft)

(SE of Braemar (Loch Callater).)


Region: Aberdeenshire (Southern Grampians)


Nearest town or village:



Nearest large towns:

Ballater (E), Newtonmore (W) or Kingussie (W)


OS Grid Refs:

(wing pieces): NO 209 844

(wing section): NO 207 844


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Significant wreckage remains onsite, including large mainplane section (wing) and turbojet parts.



Other air crash site in this vicinity:


RN Fairey Firefly Z2108 on Cuidhe Crom, E of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor.)




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: WJ615


Operator: RAF (35 Squadron)


Operating Base: RAF Upwood


Base Location: Bury, Cambridgeshire, England


Current Airport Status: Closed by MoD in 1994, and site returned to civil ownership.  Part of the site is now a USAF installation (non-airborne), while another part of the site is used by Nene Valley Gliding Club and an Air Cadet Squadron.


Current Airport Name: Upwood





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